Do You Mow the Lawn or Cut the Grass?

Do You Mow the Lawn or Cut the Grass? 

After a nostalgic Father’s Day and then rounding the corner of summer this week, I can’t help thinking about another one of my father’s ponderings: the difference between mowing the lawn and cutting the grass.

Mowing the lawn sounds soft, he contended, almost French if you say it fast. “Mow de lawn,” he would whisper with his southern charm and a wave of his hand. The genteel flavor in the phrase kicks up an aroma of freshly harvested grass, complete with a professional and sensitive operator behind that powerful whirring machine.

Do You Mow the Lawn or Cut the Grass? Yet “cutting the grass,” he countered, sounds harsh, like an execution where machines saddled with high-powered motors and rotary blades function as mini-guillotines. Robotic operators attack the terrain ahead as if it were the enemy standing between them and their free time. The encounter is a race to the finish.

Granted, the machine one person uses to mow the lawn can be the same machine another person uses to cut the grass. Whether a lawn is mowed or cut depends upon the operator.

Do You Mow the Lawn or Cut the Grass?We all know people from both schools of lawn care.

Dot, our family’s neighbor for over 20 years, never cut her grass. She mowed her lawn — meticulously, methodically, regularly and with sensitivity and respect for the personality of the grass. She was an artist with the same machine another person (sometimes my father) used to cut the grass (when he was in a hurry.)

Before my paralysis, I, too, enjoyed mowing the lawn. With my first-born in my backpack carrier, I’d push our mower back and forth across our yard. The sound put my child to sleep, a rarity in those days, while giving me time to connect my scattered thoughts. The repetitive straight lines brought order to this young mother’s chaos while giving something quite uncommon in those early days of parenting — visible results.

Beyond the grassy lawns, however, we may discover the same two groups in the business of life.

Some mow the lawn of life with sensitivity and reverence. These people seek to preserve the beauty in life, constantly doing those things that enrich relationships and improve the quality of living. Like the mowers of lawns, these folks take time to trim, edge, and genuinely respect the nature of each person. They not only smell the roses, but also inhale the restorative and connective properties of the well-trimmed lawns of life.

Then there are the grass cutters. These folks have one aim — to get through life. They want to knock life down, cutting whatever is in the way. Their mission-driven mindsets focus on making things happen, running their machine over anyone unfortunate enough to be at the wrong place at the right time. The complexities of human nature are but weeds to be cut, void of unique purpose or talents. Efficiency rules with little time for reflection.

Thankfully, both lawns and life refresh as Mother Nature and Father Time keep us moving, giving us the chance to reset our approach.

If I’m honest, I’ve done both. Although I’d like to say I’ve “mowed” more than I’ve “cut,” there have been times life has been so thick with complexity that all I could do was cut my way through and try to make it to the next day. If I hurt anyone in the process, I hope I’ve made amends.

How about you? Do you mow the lawn, or cut the grass? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

My best—always,

Becky  (Nana B)

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Portions of this column were excerpted from my Looking Homeward series at Herald-Dispatch.